If you’ve never heard of Noosa then you’re not the only one. I heard about this little gem of a place from a traveler in a hostel a day before I decided to go, and was I ever happy that I added Noosa to my Australia trip itinerary.
But where is Noosa?
Noosa is a little paradise located on the east coast of Australia, a part of the Sunshine Coast. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to visit a place called the Sunshine Coast, it just sounds spectacular. And there are so many things to do on the Sunshine Coast (with the best being in Noosa).
Noosa is a beach town of about 20,000 people stretched out between two beaches with a national park wedged in between. There’s the main road about a 30-second walk from the main beach with adorable little cafes, restaurants and fabulous shopping spots from Billabong to independent shops.
It’s located about a 2-hour bus ride north of Brisbane and it one of the jumping off spots for single or multi-day trips to Fraser Island.
There are no street lights, people stroll the streets in their large hats and bathing suit cover ups while surfers run past you in the national park. Everything you’ll need is a 15 minute walk or short bus ride away. And the weather in Noosa is gorgeous.
Noosa is my personal favourite place in Australia. But in a small beach town what Noosa activities and attractions are there? Plenty.
Things to do in Noosa
Noosa National Park Walk
If there’s one thing you should do in Noosa it’s the national park walk. From Noosa Heads it’s about an hour walk at a decent stroll along the absolutely stunning coast to Hell’s Gates. The edge drops off to a pool of rough waters that smash against the rocks, making it an incredible place to see the power of the ocean. It’s also the best spot in Noosa to watch the sunrise.
Along the walk keep your eyes peeled for koalas and dolphins, both are known to be spotted (though I saw dolphins while on the main beach!). This is by far one of the best things to do in Noosa
You’re in a beach town, what else are you going to do? Get your tan on at Noosa main beach which is located in Noosa Heads or Sunshine Beach which is a 5 minute drive, short bus or lengthy walk through the national park. Sunshine Beach is a tad more laid back since Noosa main beach is the hot spot in town. But both have that white sand that you’re looking for and waves for surfing.
Though part of the national park, Laguna Lookout is not a stop along the coastal walk. It is about a 20-minute walk from Noosa Heads to the lookout where you can see the main beach. It’s beautiful for sunset and it gives you a general idea of the size of Noosa Heads and the beauty of the white sand contrasting with the blue water.
By explore I mean window shop because Hastings Street is going to do some damage to your credit card if you have it out. The street is lined with all kinds of shops from bathing suits to jewelry and bohemian style clothing. Tucked in between are restaurants with large patios, cafes with fresh coffee and gelato stores waiting for you to give in.
Don’t miss Massimo’s Gelateria or Betty’s Burgers.
There are also things to do around Noosa like the Eumundi Markets. And let me tell you that these markets are amazing. Food, clothing, handmade jewelry, art, photography and so much more. There seems to be a stall for everything at the Eumundi Markets. You can even have your fortune told.
Take the 631 bus from Noosa Heads and it will drop you off directly in front of the markets about half an hour later. The markets are open Saturdays 7AM-2PM and Wednesdays 8AM-1:30PM.
Noosa River Paddle Boarding
Get active with activities in Noosa and try paddle boarding or kayaking down the Noosa River. It’s still compared to the ocean (seriously I’d be off my board in about 2 seconds in the ocean waves) and is a relaxing afternoon activity in the heat. Rentals can be as cheap as $15 for a paddle board.
The fairy pools are a magical place along the coastal walk that is ideal for Instagram pictures. Okay, it’s not really magical but it’s pretty cool. During the low, please only go during the low tide, there are small pools of water between the rocks where you can jump in, see some coral under the water and bask in the sun.
In all seriousness though please watch yourself as you climb down as big waves can come quickly and knock you right off the rocks.
The only way to explain exactly where they are is that they’re about a 5-minute walk away from Hell’s Gates. So 5 minutes before reaching Hell’s Gates they are to the left, down some dark rocks. Sorry for a lack of a better description!
BBQ along the Noosa River
The BBQ’s are free to use with picnic tables around and a shelter above just in case it rains. Plus you get views of the pretty river or can laugh as your friends attempt to paddleboard for the first time.
I’m no surfer but from what I’ve been told and from a number of surfers I’ve seen around, Noosa is a great place to surf. There are multiple spots, the easiest to get is on the main beach and many other spots along the national park coastal walk.
There are only two Everglades in the world, one is in Flordia and one in Noosa. An Everglade is a marshy wetland that is mostly underwater and covered in tall grass. Doesn’t sound very appealing, does it?
Well what’s so special about the Noosa Everglades in the River of Mirrors. The water is dark from the tea tree oil that seeps into the water and the with the water being so still it creates a mirror effect for a picturesque view of the surrounding nature reflected on the water.
You can choose to do full or half day tours to the Everglades from Noosa that include a boat on the river to the Everglades and a cruise through them or you can opt to kayak or canoe.
I personally suggest you save your money and don’t canoe or kayak, the views are better from the boat!
Every Sunday from 7AM until noon you can stroll around the stalls finding freshly squeezed lime juice, homemade bread, organic produce and so much more. It’s the perfect spot for breakfast and picking up some fresh veggies while you enjoy the live band.
You can find the market at the Noosa Australian Football Club grounds, 149 Weyba Road, Noosaville.
There are not many places along Australia’s east coast where you can find good sunsets. But in Noosa they are great. My favourite thing to do was grab a bottle of wine and head down to the beach or one of the tables along the first bit of the coastal walk and watch the colours burst across the sky.
Other spots you can catch the sunset are at the River Mouth, literally just walk all the way down the main beach until the river meets the ocean and viola. Take the 20-minue walk to Laguna Lookout, or if you have a car check out Tinbeerwah Lookout for epic 360° views of Noosa.
River cruises are popular in Noosa and for good reason. You can choose to board during the day or for sunset as you sip on wine and creep on the waterfront homes that you’ll be able to afford one day (don’t we all wish), spot local wildlife and drink some more wine.
Some cruises are BYO drinks and snacks, some have meals on board.
I don’t care how old you are, zoos are awesome. I’m saying this even as someone who is not a zoo fan. But come on you are in Australia and do you know how many animals Australia has that you can’t find anywhere else in the world? The answer: a lot.
Plus the Australia Zoo was made famous by Steve Irwin. You know him, he was the Crocodile Hunter…crickey, mate!
The zoo itself is not in Noosa, but Noosa is one of the closest places to it so it acts a fun day trip.
Accommodation in Noosa
Let me be the first to tell you that Noosa is hella expensive, but welcome to Australia. That being said there are more than reasonable places to stay in Noosa that are affordable. My personal favourite that I award the best place to stay in Noosa is Halse Lodge, a YHA hostel.
I am slightly obsessed with this hostel because of the overall vibe, the amazing people I met there and its perfect, I mean perfect location. I kid you not it takes less than 2 minutes to walk to the beach and on the way there you pass Hastings Street, the liquor store and Ben & Jerry’s. Does it get any better? Yes, it does, they also have free surfboard hire. Plus the managers are fabulous there.
If you can’t tell from this post I absolutely adore Noosa. It’s not a place where there are a ton of things to do but its relaxed and laid back holiday vibe will have you wanting to stay forever. Trust me, I’m not the only one who’s gotten stuck in Noosa for a few weeks!
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